Antiscience legislation resurfaces in South Dakota

South Dakota's Senate Bill 59, which would allow the misrepresentation of science in the classroom, was introduced on January 21, 2020.

If enacted, SB 59 would provide, "No teacher may be prohibited from assisting students to understand, analyze, critique, or review, in an objective scientific manner, the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information presented in courses being taught, which are aligned with the content standards established pursuant to § 13-3-48 [the section of the state code that governs the state education standards revision cycle]."

Although no specific topics are mentioned, the language of the bill matches the language in bills explicitly aimed at disputing evolution and/or climate change, including South Dakota's SB 114 in 2015. In 2016, the identical SB 83 was introduced and eventually died in committee; in 2017, the identical SB 55 passed the Senate but ultimately was defeated in the House Education Committee; in 2019, the identical HB 1270 was defeated on the House floor.

Among the organizations opposing SB 59's predecessors were the South Dakota Department of Education, the School Administrators of South Dakota, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, and the South Dakota Education Association.

The chief sponsor of SB 59 is Jeff Monroe (R-District 24), joined by five colleagues in the Senate and eight colleagues in the House.


Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.